Sports bars and burger joints will always be jam-packed on Super Bowl Sunday, but according to a recent survey by The Neilson Company, 9 out of 10 households will be staying home for this year’s big game. "'Staying in is the new 'night out' and we see this trend continue to play out with the Super Bowl,' said Nick Lake, vice president, group client director, Beverage Alcohol at Nielsen. 'Consumers continue to rein in spending and while this 'new normal' provides challenges for restaurant and bar owners, it presents opportunities for consumer packaged goods (CPG) retailers and manufacturers.'" Super Bowl season has traditionally been a busy time here at Thomas as well — printing window clings, building banners and freestanding cutouts for restaurants vying to become the local Super Bowl headquarters. But with consumers tightening their belts, we thought we’d offer few suggestions to help you take advantage of what may become the new normal.

1. Branded Take Home Snack Packages

If people aren’t going to come to you, you can just go to them. Consumers want convenience just as much as value. So put together a unique offering of your top appetizers and drinks packaged in an interesting way. Make special boxes and to-go cups and market this package deal as a tailgate party for the living room. Put some flyers in your menus and position your restaurant to be the one-stop shop for any watch party snacks.

2. Throw a Bigger, Better Party

The only thing better than a living room watch party is a blown out, weekend long football festival. Go big or they’ll go home. Live outdoor music, eating contests with a decent reward, flag football tournaments – anything to get people excited and talking. This could even be a great way to generate free publicity. Local TV news, radio stations and newspapers love to cover interesting events. It could easily become something people look forward to year after year.

3. Push Catering

Everybody loves to attend a great party, but it’s usually a huge pain to throw one. If you can take care of as many annoying details as possible, you’re restaurant will quickly become the go to place for party throwers all over. Even if catering isn’t normally something you offer, rent a few chaffing dishes and truck or two – it will be worth the effort. They key will be informing your customers beforehand so they have a chance to make all their plans.

4. Discounts on Appetizers and Drinks

Besides huge amazing prizes (see #5), nothing brings in a crowd better than a really good deal. Offer cheap beer or half-price appetizers during the game or for anyone who has a table of more than a certain number of people. Another favorite is to give free food based on the game itself. Customers will love the risky nature of it (Vegas makes a killing off this) and they will show up just to see what happens. A free pizza for every touchdown or a round of drinks for an interception. Again, your customers have to know about it before but if you make the deal sweet enough they’ll definitely show up.

5. Give Away Something Expensive

The only thing better than getting something for free is getting something really awesome for free. If you offer something that people definitely want, you’ll have watch out for a maximum occupancy violation. The trick here is to partner with the provider of the item to be given away. If it’s a massive flat screen, make a deal with a local electronics company and give them some free menu advertising. If it’s a free car, offer to cater the next few liquidation sales at the car lot. But the most important thing is to make it something amazing. A free dinner isn’t going to cut it; you’re going to have to come up with something people will go crazy for.

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